22nd November 2023

Launching Ireland’s First Raingarden Demonstrator


A pioneering nature-based solutions pilot scheme has launched in Ireland, with local school children embracing the opportunity to help their town build a more resilient approach to flooding and extreme temperatures.

Renowned for its charming, picturesque waterfront and place as the second-largest natural harbour in the world (after Sydney Harbour in Australia), Cobh sits on an island in Cork city’s harbour. Also known as the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912, the small town has a rich and fascinating history, with its local community now at the heart of a new innovative pilot scheme that aims to change the techniques we use to minimise environmental impact as climate change continues to drive extreme weather conditions.

Cork County Council in collaboration with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has identified a highly visible sea front location to host Ireland’s first Raingarden demonstrator pilot.

Designed to capture and purify rainwater run-off from roads and footpaths, the scheme works by using rain gardens with plants and different soil types chosen to act as natural filters before it’s released into waterways or the sea. The water quality will be tested pre and post treatment within the test gardens to establish which of the different soil types performs best with a view to using this data in permanent schemes throughout Ireland.

Unveiled at East Beach in Cobh, one of the key principles of this scheme was to ensure it was in a publicly accessible location. Choosing an area bustling with everyday life, the installation consists of four independent test beds, in freestanding chambers, where members of the public can observe and enjoy the raingardens and see first-hand how they work to help our communities engage and understand the importance of flood protection and extreme weather conditions, sadly becoming more of a threat in all of our towns and cities.

The public engagement programme that runs alongside the project has been instrumental in encouraging community participation, and in particular young school children have taken great pride and enjoyment in getting involved with both the design and installation of the project. With a fun-filled launch that saw many children from the area join us to help launch the scheme, the Cobh Pilot Scheme has also worked closely with Cork City University as well as drawing on the existing research undertaken as part of the Glasgow Avenues pilot, and in collaboration with researchers and students at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The monitoring of the pilot will begin in November and last for a year.

With young people at the forefront of climate action, empowering them to be action-orientated when tackling our climate challenges is inspiring to all of us. Appointed as Design Engineers on the trailblazing project, all of us here at Civic Engineers eagerly await updates on progress made and findings uncovered. Watch Cobh’s Raingarden in action:

[Credit to: “Cobh’s Raingarden in 60secs starring Izzy and Aminata.” Youtube, uploaded by Michael Rea, 22.10.2023].

Launching Ireland’s First Raingarden Demonstrator